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Arizona bald eagle released back into wild after leg injury

(Arizona Fish and Game Department/George Andrejko)

PHOENIX — A 3-year-old bald eagle is free to roam the Arizona skies once again after recovering from a broken leg.

The eagle was released at Horseshoe Lake last week, four months after it was found at a Queen Creek dairy with a shattered femur, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

X-rays taken at wildlife rehabilitation center Liberty Wildlife showed the lower part of the bird’s leg was a shattered mess, requiring a 45-minute surgery to place a metal rod and screws to repair the damage.

“It was a pretty severe break and took longer to heal than we had expected, but with time and great care from our medical team, including volunteer veterinarian Dr. Stephanie Lamb, the leg was repaired and he’s able to grasp well with it,” Liberty Wildlife biologist Laura Hackett said in a press release.

Liberty Wildlife said the bird was the 105th bald eagle the facility has helped in its 38 years.

The eagle has a tracking device and has been located near the Verde River and Bartlett Lake.

Arizona Game and Fish said there are an estimated 75 bald eagle adult breeding pairs in the state, up from 11 pairs more than 40 years ago.

“As an agency, we strive to conserve and protect all of the state’s wildlife, but participating in something like this ahead of the Fourth of July is something special,” AZGFD raptor biologist Kyle McCarty said in the release.

“This eagle now has another shot at survival and in a couple of years, when it becomes of breeding age, it may go on to bolster Arizona’s growing bald eagle population. For us, every eagle counts.”

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